Attempting to take my mind off of how much work it was to breathe, I started reminiscing about things I used to be able to do when Mark first met me. I imagined when he looked at me-the strong, physically fit young girl he met on the skating rink- he probably did not imagine that in only my 30’s he would watch me become weak to the point of barely walking, and needing help with many daily activities. During our early dates to sporting events, camping trips, and hikes, he probably did not fathom that in less than two decades he would be helping me to walk up a step or two, and many of our “dates” would become spent at doctor’s appointments or yet another night in because I can’t leave my bed.
For a moment my heart fell, and I began to let sadness and regret seep in. In that same instant I had a picturesque vision of all of our lives in a snapshot, and I realized that none of us are quite doing the things we used to be. I remembered we all eventually will lose the ability to hike a mountain or run a 5k. We will all start to skate less laps around the rink, until eventually we have to give it up for things gentler on our aging bodies. This convinced me there is something for all of us to learn in our “quitting.”
When we quit lacing up our skates and trade them in for a walk around the block what will we take from that time we spent reveling in the scrape of our blades across the ice, the giggling when we fell and embarrassed ourselves, and the tight arm-in-arm grasping as we clung to each other to stable our stance? I decided I will take from it the gift of having experienced new things. The smile of knowing my husband learned I am adventurous and a jokester. The peace of knowing that we had some important talks on those camping trips and hikes, and we learned to trust each other and respect each other’s opinions.
Each of these moments may not repeat themselves for us; either because of aging or illness or just the world changing with time. What a joy it is to know that rather than grieving these things we can cherish each of the important things we saw and felt and learned. Those are the things worth clinging to.
Eventually for each one of us all that will be left is the echoes of the things we used to do. I want my echoes to shout of my smile, my compassion, the joy that I am able to find because I have surrendered my life to the God who made it. What will your echo be?